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Priti Patel calls for enhancing UK’s status as ‘cyber power’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Priti Patel is keen to get involved in the cyber security domain even though it is not traditionally part of the Home Office's remit

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has said the UK must “strengthen” its position as a cyber power in order to maintain its “competitive edge” on the global stage.

Addressing the CyberUK conference, hosted by the National Cyber Security Centre, Patel announced plans to bolster cyber security laws principally by way of a formal review of the Computer Misuse Act.  

According to Patel, the review of the Computer Misuse Act will examine how to deliver harsher punishments for hacking offences and online fraud as well as online crimes against children.

More broadly, Patel said it was vital the government had “the right tools and mechanisms to detect, disrupt and deter our adversaries”.

Describing the scale of cyber crime as “truly shocking”, the Home Secretary revealed that in the year to September 2020, there were around 1.7 million cyber crimes against adults in England and Wales costing more than £1 billion.  

The Home Secretary also told the conference the government has a “strong position” against paying ransoms to criminals, especially in ransomware settings.

Patel was at pains to stress that that paying a ransom in response to ransomware “does not guarantee a successful outcome”.

“It will not protect networks from future attacks, nor will it prevent the possibility of future data leaks. In fact, paying a ransom is likely to encourage criminals to continue to use this approach”, the Home Secretary added.


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